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Marlene Scinto needed to do something with her hands, her time.

Now well into her 60s, the Santa Rosa native and former Albertson's clerk had spent most of the past three decades caring for her ailing parents, Larry and Tee (Bertoli) Scinto.

After her mother died in 2010 she began to make fleece blankets. Colorful, two sided ones.

"I intended to sell them," Scinto said. Then superstorm Sandy knocked out the heat back East.

"They need blankets," she said. And she happens to have about 100.

She's on a mission. Having decided she'll send all her blankets to storm victims in the suffering Red Hook area of Brooklyn, she's working to find a church or other agency there that will receive her shipment.

"Look at the pictures (on the news). They're cold. They break my heart."

She won't rest until she's blanketed Brooklyn.

CHRISTMAS IS NIGH and certain businesses are preparing to open on Thanksgiving and work every angle to maximize holiday sales.

Meanwhile, the staff of Pride Mountain Vineyards on the Sonoma-Napa county line locked the doors one morning last week and spent the day bagging produce, labeling donation boxes and making themselves terrifically useful at the Redwood Empire Food Bank.

And, no, it wasn't the winery that leaked word of the gift of more than 100 spirited man-hours of labor to efforts to assure that everyone has food.

TOM'S BOOTH: Many nice things were said, deservedly, at the Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County luncheon thanking two Healdsburg couples for their contributions to the health of the community.

Honors went to Tom Reed, the affable former Secretary of the Air Force, and his wife, Kay, and to Big John's Market owners John and Kim Lloyd.

One of the best lines came as actor Charlie Siebert — he was a co-star of TV's "Trapper John, M.D." — reviewed Tom Reed's history of support to local assets such as Healdsburg District Hospital and the Green Music Center.

Beyond that, Siebert said, without support of his pal Reed "I doubt Adel's would have survived."

If you meet Tom Reed for coffee or lunch in Healdsburg, it'll probably happen at the diner there just off they highway.

SETH CLAYTON? He's the 2005 Montgomery High alum who studied both physics and theater at NYU and for years weighed whether to pursue science or art.

He chose the latter. Now the veteran of Santa Rosa's 6th Street Playhouse and multiple New York City theaters has landed his biggest role yet.

The off-Broadway Manhattan Theatre Club offered Seth a major part opposite star Edie Falco ("The Sopranos") in the world premiere of "The Madrid" by Liz Flahive.

Opening night for "The Madrid" is next Feb. 26. Dress warmly.

VOTE FOR RIEBLI! Though the big election is over, students and staffers at John B. Riebli School plead for votes that could bring them up to $50,000 for computers and tablets.

"We are the only school in Santa Rosa in the running for this," says Karen Holtman, the kindergarten teacher who nominated Riebli for the prize.

The competition is the Clorox Company's "Power A Bright Future" grant program.

Anyone 13 or older can vote as often as once a day until Dec. 13. Text the code "889pbf" to 95248, or Google the Clorox program's Website and search "Riebli" or "Santa Rosa."

California pot: Smoke it (or eat it) if you can get it

OAKLAND — It wasn’t exactly reefer madness Monday as California launched the first legal sales of recreational marijuana, but those who could find the drug celebrated the historic day, lining up early for ribbon cuttings, freebies and offerings ranging from cookies to gummy bears to weed with names like heaven mountain.

Jeff Deakin, 66, his wife Mary and their dog waited in the cold all night to be first in a line of 100 people when Harborside dispensary, a longtime medical pot shop in Oakland, opened at 6 a.m. and offered early customers joints for a penny and free T-shirts that read “Flower to the People — Cannabis for All.”

“It’s been so long since others and myself could walk into a place where you could feel safe and secure and be able to get something that was good without having to go to the back alley,” Deakin said. “This is kind of a big deal for everybody.”

Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo used a giant pair of scissors to cut a green ribbon, declaring, “With these scissors I dub thee free,” before ringing up the first customer at a cash register.

Sales were brisk in the shops lucky to score one of the roughly 100 state licenses issued so far, but customers in some of the state’s largest cities were out of luck. Los Angeles and San Francisco hadn’t authorized shops in time to get state licenses and other cities, such as Riverside and Fresno, blocked sales altogether.

Licensed shops are concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, around Palm Springs, San Jose and Santa Cruz, where the KindPeoples shop tacked up a banner Monday declaring, “Prohibition is Over!”

The state banned what it called “loco-weed” in 1913, though it has eased criminal penalties for use of the drug since the 1970s and was the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in 1996.

California voters in 2016 made it legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess and use limited quantities of marijuana, but it wasn’t legal to sell it for recreational purposes until Monday.

The nation’s most populous state now joins a growing list of states, and the nation’s capital, where so-called recreational marijuana is permitted even though the federal government continues to classify pot as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.

The signs that California was tripping toward legal pot sales were evident well before the stroke of midnight. California highways flashed signs before New Year’s Eve that said “Drive high, Get a DUI,” reflecting law enforcement concerns about stoned drivers. Weedmaps, the phone app that allows customers to rate shops, delivery services and shows their locations, ran a full-page ad Sunday in the Los Angeles Times that said, “Smile California. It’s Legal.”

Travis Lund, 34, said he’d been looking forward while working the graveyard shift to buy weed legally for the first time since he began smoking pot as a teen.

“I’m just stoked that it’s finally legal,” he said after purchasing an eighth of an ounce of “Mount Zion” and another type of loose leaf marijuana at Northstar Holistic Collective in Sacramento, where the fragrance of pot was strong. “I’m going to go home and get high — and enjoy it.”

—Associated Press


Find more in-depth cannabis news, culture and politics at EmeraldReport.com, authoritative marijuana coverage from the PD.

Seven U.S. schools will win grants. Go, Riebli.

THIS SPACE TAKEN: Driver Jim Caudill chuckled at the timely and passive-aggressive bumper sticker he spotted in Bennett Valley.

"If I'd ridden my bike today," it read, "you could have parked here."

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.)

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